The human body is a miracle. And little do we realize it. Every day we put in under different pressures and strains. We twist it, bend it, and contort it. We expose it to extreme weather, severe pollution and unhealthy diets. And yet, we live. The systems that nature has put in place ‘inside’ us are mindboggling.
For example, did you know that the human lungs consist of 300,000 million capillaries (very thin blood vessels)? If they were to be laid out one after another, they would span 1500 miles! Or how about this; the human eye focuses over 100,000 times in a single day. That is the equivalent of walking 50 miles in a day for the legs! The nose can detect over 50,000 scents and the mouth produces enough saliva over a lifetime to fill two swimming pools! Yes, disgusting but true!
At the heart of this phenomenon lies, well, the ‘heart’. Everyone recognizes the importance of this crucial organ and yet our lifestyles fail to reflect that understanding. In modern times, being overweight is a common occurrence, in part to sedate lifestyles, long work hours, lack of sleep, and offhand food habits. The strain that every extra ounce puts on the heart is immense and the full import of that is felt only when it is too late.
Particularly troubling is the fact that people who are overweight have higher chances of having sleep apnea as well. People suffering from it stop breathing for small periods when in deep sleep. The victim of sleep apnea is thus at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
Interestingly, moving towards the ideal weight has huge benefits. Even small reductions lead to lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol and better circulation. All of these are heart-friendly. A note of caution here, though; the march towards one’s ideal weight needs to be gradual and careful. On a weekly basis, losing more than 2 pounds is not advisable. Two simple steps to achieve this are to eat close to 500 calories less everyday and do some cardiovascular exercise like brisk walking or running for 20 to 30 minutes.
It is a great idea to go through a comprehensive preventive diagnostic testing to detect early signs of heart disorder. For those suffering from ailments like cholesterol congestion, arterial blockages or high blood pressure; dietary changes can be both therapeutic and preventive of further damage.
Many of these diets involve eating food in its natural form. Fruits, whole-grain items and poultry are desirable items on your plate. And you cannot have enough of salads. High fat dairy products are a big no-no. The same goes for sugary drinks and red meat. All products carry information about the type and quality of fat present in them. Basically most of the items with saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol are to be avoided. Again, seeking the help of an expert dietician to chart out a diet, and following it, is an effective way to battle most ailments of heart, if detected early. To easily find a Doctor and book appointments online, check out zocdoc.com
Also, it makes sense to cut back on sodium as it causes the blood pressure to rise. Salt is the chief source of sodium in the diet. If you eat less salt, your body would have lesser fluids and hence lesser blood pressure. The USDA dietary guidelines suggest sodium intake of not more than 2300 mg on a daily basis. For demographic groups like those older than 51, African-Americans or those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol, this is further reduced to 1500 mg per day.
To reduce sodium, shun ready-to-eat foods. Appetizers and starters also have a lot of salt. One method is to cook food without adding salt and then add a bit of it while serving so as to not lose flavor. If you are using ‘instant’ food packs, check for ‘low sodium’.
You cannot be too careful when it comes to the heart. It is the literally the engine that keeps us going. No matter how tough our daily routines are, staying ‘heart-healthy’ is the least we can do for ourselves!